What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.

About

What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Finding that strange balance

The current political situation in the United States has created a climate that makes it difficult for someone who takes my positions to say much.

On the one hand, if I speak up about the severe evils of social and political leftism, if I emphasize the union of the social and the political "on the ground" in daily American life, everyone will assume that I am (not to put too fine a point on it) saying, "Vote Trump!" in not-so-subtly-coded language. Which I am not saying.

On the other hand, if I make it clear that, yes, even now in 2019 I call myself "Never Trump" and do not intend ever to vote for this particular candidate, if I make it clear that I still consider the current President to have no character and little knowledge and that I think that whatever good he has done has come from taking the advice of others, I invite all the utter, endless weariness of getting harangued about how not voting is "giving a vote" or "giving half a vote" to the Democrats, and so on, and so on, and so on, ad infinitum. Which I refuse to get involved in debating. (Fun fact: I was arguing against all of that phony mathematics about "giving a vote to the other side" more than ten years ago, before it entered anyone's dreams that Donald Trump would ever run for President, much less that he would do so as a Republican.)

And unfortunately, back on the other hand, a phrase like "I'm Never Trump" has now come in some circles to mean, "I have a lot of sympathy with progressives" or "I'm not a really hard-line social conservative" or "I have contempt for anyone who voted for Trump or will do so in 2020," all of which are untrue of me, by a large margin. Notice to progressives and progressive fellow travelers: I'm probably just about as "deplorable" or more so on the policy issues you care about as the people you think you get to despise because they vote for Trump. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Either way, someone is likely to think that I'm signaling something I'm not signaling. And such accidental signaling can occur so easily. For example, my post about the "scale of not-so-niceness" might be taken to be a coded "Vote Trump!" post, since "not being too nice" is supposed to be part of what people are in favor of when they harangue you about how you have to Vote Trump. But that post wasn't saying that at all. This possibility of false signaling produces a curious kind of paralysis. It is tempting never to say anything again about any issue that could be deemed "political," but that would be a mistake as well.

In this post, I have something to say to everybody who still thinks of himself as a conservative in some sense, even if in different camps.

First of all, to those of you who voted for the current President in 2016, who plan to do so again in 2020, and who are annoyed with conservatives who didn't, I have a couple of things to say:

--Please, I beg you, don't harangue on this topic. If you see this post, and your first thought is, "Imma go into the thread below this and start trying to argue with Lydia that she has to vote for Trump in 2020," you are not getting the point. When you just cannot stop pushing and pushing and pushing your conservative friends on that, you make yourself look like a single-minded ideologue, and you encourage counter-reactions.

--Please, don't make everything about this one thing--voting in the Presidential election. For example, if you put up a post about how the homosexualist lobby is persecuting somebody, don't end the post with, "And this is why we all need to Vote Trump in 2020." There are other ways to unify conservatives. For example, we can be unified in speaking out. We can be unified in supporting people who are being persecuted. We can be unified in steering away from wrong-headed thought leaders within Christianity. And that's worth a lot.

--Please, restrain yourself with the what-about-ism. When someone says something like, "Wow, this alt-right post is really horrible," please resist the knee-jerk reaction to say, "What about what the left did? The media isn't talking about that." What-about-ism is just boring, and it prevents a recognition of reality.

Second, to those who still think of themselves as conservative but won't vote for Trump, I have a couple of things to say:

--Please, don't make foolish generalizations. For example, don't say, "The right is just as bad as the left." That's just nonsense. Both in terms of policy and in terms of personal commitment to what is good vs. what is evil, there is a major asymmetry. Just because you are frustrated with what has happened politically in the last few years, and just because you know that there really is such a thing as the alt-right (and there is!), it doesn't follow that the "right is just as bad as the left" or that you always have to say something parallel both to right and left.

--Remember that as far as policy is concerned, most of your conservative friends support the same policies that they did back before the 2016 Presidential campaign. It's not like they have been transformed into closet racists. Not even the ones who are most vocal and most annoying about making everything about voting for Trump!

--Watch your own shifts of emphasis. If you are now out there incessantly talking about the "evil" of immigration policies that were the same in the time of Barack Obama, you might just be succumbing to anti-Trump syndrome and being manipulated by the media. And if you are incapable of seeing your own (and progressives') increasingly condescending and sometimes even bigoted views of strong social and economic conservatives, then you might be getting blinded and shifting without realizing what is happening.

In the rest of this post, a few more thoughts that might seem to apply to different sides of this divide, depending on your perspective:

Don't eschew politics, and don't say naive things about how we need generally to "avoid politics." Nowadays, politics isn't about things that intelligent, engaged Christians can afford to avoid or evade. Because the left has decided to transform society radically, all kinds of things are now de facto "political," even if they shouldn't be. If you just think that men cannot turn into women, that is now a "political" belief. If you don't want Drag Queen Story Hour at your local public library that is "political." If you want local businessmen and employees not to be harassed and driven out of business and out of being able to support themselves because they hold that homosexuality is wrong, then that is "political." If you oppose the murder of unborn children, that is "political." Politics and culture are inextricably intertwined. Politics isn't just about, I dunno, tariff reform or something. So don't lecture people about how, "With the young nowadays, we need to start with something other than politics." Baloney. "The young nowadays" probably are more "into" these issues than anybody else, so don't evade it, because you can't, and if you try you'll probably just end up having a skewed picture of those innocent "young" people and then find out something upsetting later on.

Moreover, there are all kinds of political things you can do besides voting for this candidate in the Presidential election. Anybody remember state elections? Local elections? Federal congressional elections? State referendums? Oh, yeah, those. Americans have a tendency to get fixated on the Presidency, as though the only real (or full, or adequate, or something) expression of civic consciousness and political and cultural engagement is voting in the Presidential election every four years. Which is just false. And besides the many other elections, there are other things you can do, like speaking out on issues, signing petitions, and giving money to pro-life and pro-family organizations.

But, take a break, too. Have some things that you do, that are important to you that are not polemical. Remember hobbies? If you don't have anything that you want to talk about on social media that is not polemical, then you need more hobbies. (Note to those who follow me on Facebook. My public posts are usually polemical, but this is chiefly for reasons of privacy. My private posts vary more. Fun fact: I raise monarch caterpillars.)

Good hobbies should be such as to focus your mind on the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. This doesn't mean that they have to be high-brow. Gardening would definitely count. So would hiking, embroidery, training your dog, or reading great literature or listening to beautiful music (that you enjoy). But video gaming probably wouldn't. If you're getting depressed about the evil State of the World, well, yes, the State of the World is very evil, but take your eyes off of it at times. Don't allow the evil in the world to cause you to become curved in on yourself and obsessed with it.

Somewhere there is a balance among all of these things. And somehow it ought to be possible to find it without being pompous about it to other people. ("Look at me, the perfectly balanced intellectual!")

So let's at least try.

Comments (32)

Thank you for this post, Lydia. As a conservative Republican who won't vote for Trump, it's wearisome to be accused from both sides of all kinds of foolishness, stupidity, and even evil.

I most appreciate your last part, though. However important politics has become (and I certainly agree we can't just ignore it), living the rest of life is at least equally important. I might say more so, because remembering to simply live and love in our families and communities, to pursue truth, beauty, and goodness elsewhere than in the slime that politics has become, can refresh the soul in ways that make it easier to approach the political in a godly and more balanced manner. When I'm over here creating/enjoying things of beauty, I'm less inclined to want to be slimy and ugly about political issues.

Hi Lydia,

For me, personally, the over-riding issue is human life. We have one party whose leader has successfully nominated two pro-life conservatives to the Supreme Court, and another party which believes that a woman's right to choose takes precedence over the interests of the unborn child right up until the moment of birth, and whose leaders refused 75 times to even bring the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to the floor of the House of Representatives for debate and a vote. Meanwhile, approximately 879,000 unborn children's lives were legally terminated in the U.S. in 2017. Someone has to put a stop to this madness.

It would be naive to expect that a conservative Supreme Court would repeal Roe vs. Wade (and more importantly, Doe vs. Bolton) holus bolus. Since Roberts is liable to "go wobbly," I imagine that the pro-life majority (assuming there is one) will come up with some sort of compromise that allows them to claim, with some fig-leaf of plausibility, that they've preserved stare decisis - perhaps they'll continue to uphold legalized abortion in the first trimester while allowing states to ban it thereafter in all cases except where the mother's life is in danger or the unborn baby is bound to die but liable to injure the mother while the pregnancy continues. Even so, that would still save more than 50,000 lives per annum (assuming half the states enact laws to ban second-trimester abortions in all but the most extreme cases). More importantly, it would send a signal to all Americans, and to courts around the world, that unborn life is worth defending, and that the legalized killing of a 14-week-old unborn baby is nothing short of barbaric. If you've been following the recent debate on legalized abortion in New Zealand, you'll realize why the world needs that signal.

The fact that the leader of the party favoring the pro-life cause has a foul mouth, poor impulse control, a tendency to tell self-serving fibs and a checkered past pales into insignificance, when you ponder the real issues facing America today. For better or worse, he's the only individual with a strong enough personality to stop the rabid pro-choice lunatics who are currently in control of the Democratic Party. Why? Because he knows how to fight. And he knows that you don't always win a fight by behaving like a gentleman.

with some fig-leaf of plausibility, that they've preserved stare decisis - perhaps they'll continue to uphold legalized abortion in the first trimester while allowing states to ban it thereafter in all cases except where the mother's life is in danger or the unborn baby is bound to die but liable to injure the mother while the pregnancy continues.

As a con-law geek I cannot forbear saying that this *would* be repealing Roe holus bolus and that it would not even retain a fig leaf of plausibility for stare decisis. It was *intrinsic* to Roe that states *could not* take the life of the child into account in the second trimester. Later decisions only modified that to take it back perhaps as far as the 20th week of gestation. But the whole idea that one is somehow retaining Roe (and Casey and other decisions that enshrined Roe's "constitutional right to abortion") if the SCOTUS allows states to outlaw abortion back to the first trimester just involves a misunderstanding of Roe itself and of what stare decisis means in relation to it.

Beyond that, as I said in the main post, I have no intention whatsoever of discussing further my reasons for not voting for the incumbent in 2020. I find such conversations to be absolute black holes.

But I appreciate very much your concern for unborn babies. On that we are in wholehearted agreement.

I cannot forbear saying that this *would* be repealing Roe holus bolus and that it would not even retain a fig leaf of plausibility for stare decisis. It was *intrinsic* to Roe that states *could not* take the life of the child into account in the second trimester. Later decisions only modified that to take it back perhaps as far as the 20th week of gestation. But the whole idea that one is somehow retaining Roe (and Casey and other decisions that enshrined Roe's "constitutional right to abortion") if the SCOTUS allows states to outlaw abortion back to the first trimester just involves a misunderstanding of Roe itself and of what stare decisis means in relation to it.

First, I think that there are ways of negating at least part of Roe that might interfere with the stare decisis doctrine, but given that the rationale of Roe was itself deeply flawed, it is very hard indeed to be dogmatic about how far encroaching on the Roe outcome "really" upsets stare decisis. If an argument is illogical, ANY outcome can be proposed that is still "consistent" with it, in some sense or other.

Second, the Supreme Court itself DOES overturn past decisions on occasion (admittedly, rarely), and yet they don't seem to think that their overturnings somehow spell a complete defeat for the doctrine of stare decisis - it still seems to BE here, after all. So the theory that Roe cannot be overturned without a defeat for the doctrine of stare decisis is just plain bad theory. In fact, the doctrine is one among a panoply of judicial doctrines, and it is not the ultimate doctrine that sits at the peak of all others such that they must all give way to it. There is room for it to be superceded by a more important rule.

There is (with some reason) concern for proposing the more important rule merely being that of "well, the earlier court simply got it wrong." This would imply (say the concerned) that EVERY Supreme Court decision might be overturned, and thus nothing is ever settled, and partisans can keep on coming back for another bite at the apple.

But we need not go there in order to re-consider Roe, for two reasons. First, because even liberal law professors agree that the reasoning of Roe was flawed, so it is not clearly partisan to argue that Roe should be reconsidered. More importantly, though, it is now even clearer than it was in the 1973 that the Supremes improperly took power to themselves at the expense of the "political" arms of government, and that the issue belonged at the level of state legislatures and governors to handle. So the concrete content of the ruling can be disregarded while attacking the positioning of the Court to address the issue the way they did. Such a basis for re-addressing the issue is clearly NOT a defeat for stare decisis as such. They overstepped their boundaries, not merely that they got the wrong answer.

I also have basic doubts about the actual validity

of the doctrine of stare decisis itself as a real principle. I recognize the practicality of saying "stop asking, the answer remains what it was the last time". But at the same time, the underlying constitutional power of the judicial branch is supposed to be the power of persuasion: they are NOT SUPPOSED to have the two other branches simply kow-tow to the Court's decisions as being divine dictum, as if they were the true rulers and the other branches merely functionaries. They are supposed to be co-equal branches, which means that, for example, the executive branch is supposed to exercise its executive power in recognizing the persuasive force of the Court's ruling. (And in cases of legitimate doubt, accepting the reasoning offered as being the best we (collectively) can state so far.) If after nearly 50 years it has become increasingly clear to those actually paying attention that the Court's 1973 argument lacks that persuasive force, it is bad constitutional practice to keep on holding to the 1973 ruling as if its positioning were sacrosanct merely because it was once spoken. If stare decisis is a real principle (instead of, say, just a pragmatic rule of thumb), it takes second place to certain other constitutional principles.

That said, the above is certainly a digression from Lydia's point, and I apologize for going down the rabbit hole. I submit it, though, as an example of how it is possible to proceed against one bad thing without simply running to the opposite extreme bad thing.

I just meant "not retaining a fig leaf for stare decisis as it pertains specifically to Roe."

Lol, I remember 2016 primary and election season well. I believed the Dems and Hillary and the complicit Leftist Media had *colluded* to nominate the one candidate who was practically guaranteed to lose against Hillary. I was very, very disgusted and disappointed, amplified by the utter gutlessness of John Boehner and Senator Mitchell, and the Roberts' Court. I switched to "No Party Affiliation" after the GOP primary in Indiana. I was against Trump being nominated as the GOP candidate. I thought it was a near-certain loss. And that the feckless and gutless GOP had fallen for the Dem Lib plan to nominate the sure loser Trump.

And I vote based as "An Against" voter. I am against Abortion. Ergo, I never vote Dem Lib. If I was back in the pre-Civil War days, I'd vote against slavery. If I was a German during the Hitler era, I'd vote against Hitler. It's not that I'm pro-Republican, I'm really just anti-Leftist Lib. So I'm now an Independent Conservative.

Anyways, I voted 3rd party in the 2016 Presidential Election in one of the Bluest States in the country. I was shell shocked that Trump had won. Yippee-Kai-Yay, the vile crooked Hillary did not win!! A temporary stay of execution was granted to residents of America!

Since Trump's inauguration, I have carefully observed the policy decisions and actions of his Administration. I have to tell you, IMNSHO, Trump has done an *OUTSTANDING* job. Not perfect, faux pas, gaffes, missteps, unforced errors, are all recognized and duly noted. But overall, he has accomplished FAR MORE than I could have ever imagined and hoped for as a Constitutional Originalist Conservative. He does the one thing that his early supporters have said about him: HE FIGHTS BACK against the Lying Hypocritical Leftist Libs.

That's exactly what was lacking, and exactly what was needed to contend against the Anti-God Liberal Left. This is one of those times that you need someone willing to wrestle with the pig in the mud.

As a long-time non-Episcopalian observer of TEc (The Episcopal Church), and the other sad sack Mainline Lib sisters, the theologically conservative wings did not have the will or the stomach to politically fight off heresy in doctrine or practice. There was the denial that sometimes the path to peace is through WAR, paradoxically, and ironically enough. A CIVIL WAR.

I'm seeing the same thing in Catholicism as I did in TEc and Anglicanism. There has to be a WAR for Catholicism. Bergoglio and his Leftist Power Base in the Magisterial Hierarchy are doing the same thing as I saw with PBess Schiori in TEc.

A lot of Catholics told besieged Conservative Episcopalians to flee from TEc and into their local Catholic parishes. One True Church and all that. And I have read from Catholic theologians that "Schism is worse than heresy." (Which I have never agreed with. But then again I'm a Prot.)

To close up this digression, I pray that Conservative Catholics fight like Trump against the Leftist Ungodly Catholics in control. (I always admired Cardinal Burke. And Papa Ratzi.)

And in conclusion, for 2020, I'm simply going to evaluate Trump based on the data points of his governance ever since taking the office of POTUS. And at this point in time, Trump has earned my vote. And I say this as a disgusted Conservative back in 2016.

TUAD, I too have been surprised by how not-badly Trump's presidency has been. I expected more mess and less substance than he has done so far. I also did not expect him to "settle down" noticeably after the first year's bumpy roller-coaster of mishaps and mishandlings, but he seems to have, at least somewhat. I am also not planning on counting the chickens before they hatch: he has year and half to go, and a whole re-election campaign to throw at us. While he sometimes manages to put both feet in his mouth, he seems to have room for several more, somehow.

I worry about electing someone with Trump's moral compass (or lack thereof), but I have to admit that it's a judgment call and reasonable conservatives can disagree. I guess I am waiting to see what else transpires between now and then.

Tony, I had dread and despair if Hillary was elected. Of course, Christians are not supposed to have dread and despair when we worship a Sovereign God, but you know what I mean. "Put not your trust in princes" and all that cliche stuff.

I had relatively low expectations of Trump's presidency. He has FAR exceeded them. He has made the right enemies. The Leftist Lib Shrieking Harpies are continuously hating. The glorious disinfectant of Trump's Orange Light has exposed these duplicitous liberal hyenas for all partisans and non-partisans to see. For that, I am immensely grateful.

With regards to my previous comment, and connecting TEc, Catholicism, and modern American politics in a more explicit way than I did, Conservative Orthodox Catholicism needs to fight more like Trump, else Catholicism as an institution will fall like TEc did.

Since I believe in an invisible church, it would not surprise me if the Gates of Hell prevails against the RCC should the Dainty Conservative Catholics use the same playbook as the Squish "Conservative" Episcopalians.

I did not vote for President Trump. I did not dislike Donald Trump as much as I disliked George Bush the Lesser, John McCain, and Mitt Romney. But I still thought, and continue to think, a vote for candidate Trump, would be a vote for the lesser of two evils; and therefore a vote for evil.

His performance as President has far exceeded my, admittedly low, expectations.

Some would call me a hopeless purist, but should those who are dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, vote for the lesser of two evils?

"Some would call me a hopeless purist, but should those who are dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, vote for the lesser of two evils?"

The greatest social evil, political evil, and moral evil being actively waged today in America is the premeditated murder for hire of unborn babies.

Trump is making better inroads against this evil than any other president.

Thomas,

I myself am not adamant in either direction when it comes to Trump. But maybe lesser of two evils would be better expressed as lesser of the two in character flaws?
And just because someone has character flaws, should that disqualify our voting for him? I think it's fair to say that all past presidents had their flaws, some maybe more hidden than others.
Now maybe Trump's flaws are such as would not allow for a Christian to vote for him. But I sometimes wonder if Samson of the Bible were one of the candidates would there be a "never Samson" camp?
Just some food for thought.

Now maybe Trump's flaws are such as would not allow a Christian to vote for him. But I sometimes wonder if Samson of the Bible were one of the candidates would there be a 'never Samson' camp?

God providentially put judges, including Samson, in Israel to lead his people. I have no doubt that God has providentially put President Trump in office to administer justice on behalf of His people.

In a nation, where Christians can participate in the selection of their civic leaders, is it the duty of Christians to discern who is the lesser of two evils?

God providentially put judges, including Samson, in Israel to lead his people. I have no doubt that God has providentially put President Trump in office to administer justice on behalf of His people.

On that we agree.

In a nation, where Christians can participate in the selection of their civic leaders, is it the duty of Christians to discern who is the lesser of two evils?

Now I don't necessarily agree that it's a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. I would prefer to express it as discerning of what God's will is regarding how He wants us to exercise our right to vote. But I suppose making that decision would be a matter for each individual to work out.

I would prefer to express it as discerning of what God's will is regarding how He wants us to exercise our right to vote.
Is there an objective criteria that we should use, when confronted with a choice between several evil candidates?

Thanks for this, Lydia. There are times I despair and consider ceasing to call myself an evangelical Christian because of my people's enthusiastic support for a white nationalist who has been credibly accused of sexual assault by 16 women. But then I run across another fiercely intelligent staunchly conservative Never Trump Christian, and it makes me hope that the soul of the American Christian church can still be saved. So I remain, and preach the Gospel. The Gospel that says that all people are made in the image of God and all that all are one in Christ Jesus, that we ought to love our enemies, that Jesus is the Truth and so truth is important, that we are to take care of widows and orphans and immigrants, that the fruits of the Spirit are to be pursued, and that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks; the good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good and the evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil. This Gospel will never let me vote for someone with the moral character of Donald Trump.

Is there an objective criteria that we should use, when confronted with a choice between several evil candidates?

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9 Seems that would include our own hearts, as well as those who are running for office.

So again, I go back to what I believe is the correct approach. That each one of us individually as Christians needs to seek for God's wisdom and guidance as to if and how He wants us to exercise our right to take part in the electoral system.

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

For the record, I would not call D.T. a "white nationalist." That claim is not why I will not vote for the guy.

For the record, I would not call D.T. a "white nationalist." That claim is not why I will not vote for the guy.

I figured that one was quite a stretch myself. Just curious though Lydia, have you mention somewhere in a sort of nutshell way the main reasons for your position?

Like I said I don't so much fall on either side of whether or not to support DT so I'm always curious to hear what others have to say.

I've read some of your posts, but I may have missed some. However, I don't, as of yet, seem to have a clear grasp on why you take your position.

Okay, replace “white nationalist” with “guy who wants people of color to leave the country and white people to stay and doesn’t want to allow any people of color to immigrate but does want white people to immigrate and refuses to condemn self-confessed Nazis and whose sole re-election strategy is to stir up racial resentment among white people”.

Okay, replace “white nationalist” with “guy who wants people of color to leave the country and white people to stay and doesn’t want to allow any people of color to immigrate but does want white people to immigrate and refuses to condemn self-confessed Nazis and whose sole re-election strategy is to stir up racial resentment among white people”.

LOL, seriously?

If so, Leftist brainwashing has seriously made inroads into the church. Lenin once said something about "Useful ..iots."

Merit based immigration would, probably, disproportionately favor Korean and south Asian visa applicants.

I would prefer to express it as discerning of what God's will is regarding how He wants us to exercise our right to vote.

Is there an objective criteria that we should use, when confronted with a choice between several evil candidates?

There can indeed be "objective criteria" without there being clear and easy to apply methods and algorithms that straightforwardly and definitively determine who to vote for when several candidates are not very good options.

The problem with voting for a candidate (as opposed to a proposed law or a policy) is that no person is simply speaking evil in every important sense - even bad people are always good in some way while evil in other ways. Policies or laws are (often) much closer to "cut and dried" in terms of whether a person of good morals can vote for them; for instance, when a proposed law does nothing else but to change a good custom for one that promotes (or, worse, demands) an action that is inherently evil, then that proposed law just is evil and must be voted against. But candidates are never inherently evil. In addition, candidates can change their minds (and even, sometimes, their character), but a proposed law that enjoins an intrinsically evil act can never morph itself to become a good law.

However, one "objective measure" is whether a candidate promotes and holds near and dear, as a primary policy objective, something that is intrinsically evil, or does not. Candidate Hilary was pro-abortion, part of the Democratic platform, as a sine-qua-non, a non-negotiable part of the Dem ethos and her fixed policy. Trump was (more or less) pro-life, (with some caveats that are important but not at all like Hilary's position). So at least with respect to one issue, a good Christian could not possibly vote for Hilary but could theoretically vote for Trump.

The problem with Trump was not (for a lot of us) so much his professed policy objectives, as his character and his approach to achieving objectives, and his UNprofessed objectives. His character indicates one who lies, cheats, and treats women as play things - how could we want a person like this as our leader and commander-in-chief? Given his character, how could we accept declarations of his professed objectives that are not clearly compatible with his past practices? Given his past history of switching parties - and joining the Dems as late as 2001 - how could we trust his claims about such things as his being pro-life? Given his past treatment of even temporary allies, how could we be confident his approach to achieving those objectives that require long-range steadfastness could possibly come off?

The reality is that these considerations MAY be telling reasons not to vote for DT, but are not the sorts of considerations that must necessarily lead to rejecting voting for him for any good thinking Christian: this is the very nature of what we Catholics call "prudential decisions" - i.e. decisions about which there is no definitive answer to which all intelligent and moral men must agree, determinations about which reasonable men may disagree without clear offense to conscience. These decisions can legitimately take into account "what alternative evils will befall if I vote for X instead and Z wins? - without such considerations being all-controlling by any means, because "what will befall us" can be asked not only about the next 4 years, but also the next 8, 16, 32, or 50 years (or longer), and no certain answer can be laid down for these. Judge Learned Hand said "Life is made up of a series of judgments on insufficient data, and if we waited to run down all our doubts, it would flow past us." This is the reality of prudential judgments.

"...whose sole re-election strategy is to stir up racial resentment among white people”.

Oh, hell no: he was perfectly happy stirring up resentment among blacks against illegal immigrant Hispanics as well. I don't know what you're smoking, but it's got in your eyes.

TUAD, it’s sad that “LIBERAL!” now passes as an argument in conservative circles. Another debasing of conservatism and the Party by Donald Trump. But I guess now that someone who voted for Bush, McCain, Romney, and McMullen counts as a liberal in your eyes, it’s not surprising that there are no rules anymore.

Another debasing of conservatism and the Party by Donald Trump.

Interesting. BR, I agree that Donald Trump debases the Republican Party, because of his character and some of his politics. But he also debased the Democrat Party when he was a member of that, because of his character, so he seems to be an equal-opportunity debaser.

It is silly to refer to him as debasing conservatism, because only the far left, viewing rightwards with the Hubble Telescope used wrong-ways around, can't tell the difference between conservatism and Trump. (Admittedly, this covers some 4/5 of the mainstream media.) Trump wasn't a conservative in 2001 when he joined the Dem Party, and he didn't become a conservative any time between then and when he took the election in 2016. What he is, is an opportunist, and he observed an opportunity to lever populism into successful politics under the Republican banner - probably because he has a certain core affinity to some populist sentiments, but only some.

It is also rather silly to even suggest equating between the party of Arlen Spectre and Susan Collins and conservatism. The Republican Party has spent some 3 decades now trying to be a "big tent" party, and it shows. There are an awful lot of liberals in the party who run under the name of "neoconservative" but what they seem to mean is that they are liberals who got mugged and want their money back by enforcing property rights and low taxes. So there have been plenty of liberals in the Republican Party who voted for Bush etc, along with voting for the Spectres and Collinses. There is still a considerable overlap between conservatism and that Party, but less so than, say, in 1986.

Tony said

Interesting. BR, I agree that Donald Trump debases the Republican Party, because of his character and some of his politics. But he also debased the Democrat Party when he was a member of that, because of his character...

Agreed, President Trump's character debases that with which he associates himself, including the Republican Party. But what in his politics, would have been regarded as out of the mainstream of American politics, half a decade ago? I disagree with many of his policy decisions, but, sadly, don't find them to be out of the mainstream.

I agree, the Republican Party is a broad based political party. If you look at most of the ideological questions, and policy issues that distinguish socialists, liberals, moderates, neo-conservatives, conservatives, and libertarians; Donald Trump, is on policy issues moderate to liberal. President Trump differs from the Nelson Rockefeller, George Romney, Susan Collins, Arlen Spectre liberal wing of the GOP in one important way. Nationalism! Trump is reviled by the political establishment because he is a nationalist, not an internationalist.

Part of the late Ross Perot's political appeal was his nationalism. Nationalism is also the reason the media, and the establishment wing of both major parties hated Ross Perot.

I am a bit mystified as to why BR believes President Trump to be a white nationalist. Does the enforcement of border laws, make one a white nationalist? Does believing the current immigration selection system should be scrapped, and replaced with a merit based system, make him a white nationalist?

The reality is that these considerations MAY be telling reasons not to vote for DT, but are not the sorts of considerations that must necessarily lead to rejecting voting for him for any good thinking Christian: this is the very nature of what we Catholics call "prudential decisions" - i.e. decisions about which there is no definitive answer to which all intelligent and moral men must agree, determinations about which reasonable men may disagree without clear offense to conscience.

I found your advice generally very helpful, Tony. Thanks. For me I think I'm more inclined to look at the policies rather than the character of the person, since that seems to me to be the main reason behind voting. But as you pointed out, it's hard to know the earnestness of what's being promised when there are doubts about the person's character.

However, it does seem like DT has been pretty good on what he promised, at least generally more so than most other POTUSs in recent decades. Whether or not it's from earnestness I can't say. But from what he's done so far policy wise, I don't have too many complaints. I especially like the fact that, so far, he's kept us out of getting involved in any new wars.

But from what he's done so far policy wise, I don't have too many complaints.

Agreed. I have fewer complaints than I expected. He has actually done some of the things he said, and not done some things he said he wouldn't do.

Jim, I'm sure I've stated it somewhere back in 2016, but at this point those who are loud supporters are so pushy about any discussion of it that I prefer not to do so in public because it encourages the creation of a rabbit hole or black hole of debate over the matter and does not seem to influence anybody. If I have your personal e-mail and get some time I can perhaps send you something that way.

Here I will only say in broad terms that I have *always* argued that there has to be a line concerning character and fitness for office that a candidate could cross after which point one would not vote for that candidate. There can be reasonable disagreement about where the line falls, but there must *be* a line. To me one of the most disturbing things about the current political situation and the things being said by DT supporters is that their rhetoric gives the distinct impression that there is no line whatsoever and that even if he (or another Republican candidate) were inexpressibly *worse* than he is, they would keep on saying that one *must* vote on that side politically because the other candidate is worse still. It's a little shocking, sometimes. And it just confirms me in all that I said back in 2000 and 2008 about the need for a line.

You raise monarch caterpillars? That's really neat. I know a woman whose whole house turns into a monarch nursery during the summer. She really goes overboard. Myself, I have several species of milkweed in my yard, and I enjoy watching them. I live in a 6b zone, and my (and the monarchs') favorite plant is the Mexican milkweed that I grow in containers. I know about the controversy -- but I think that we're too far north for it to matter. Anyway, they're gorgeous and easy plants, and I enjoy marveling at the beautiful creatures munching away on their leaves, instar to instar. I remember thinking that the critters were fools about to commit suicide by gnawing at the stem while hanging on the leaf, but then I kept on seeing them stop before they detached the leaf. They then could eat the leaf parallel to a branch and avoid being tossed so much by the wind. It was one of thousands of such instances where watching the natural world go about its business simply awes me. How marvelous are thy works; in wisdom hast thou made them all!

About the chief content: great post. Of course, I'd rather have had Patrick Buchanan in his prime, but, unfortunately, we have what we have -- and the circumstances of our present lot appear to keep any real (non-leftist) reformer from power. Perhaps, only a rich, brazen egoist could have broken through. I hope that he will end up playing the forerunner for a future deliverer! I know, I know -- put not your trust in princes . . . Nonetheless, like a Hebrew two thousand years ago, I want someone to lead an uprising against alien rule -- who will demolish the altars dedicated to false gods and cleanse the temple of pollution. We don't deserve such salvation, but I can still hope.

I found myself psychologically driven to buy another cage this summer and bring even more eggs inside because I couldn't bear watching them getting parasitized by tachnid flies outside on my outdoor plants. (Ugh! I forgive tachnids for existing only because I know they help farmers to control gypsy moths, but I wish they'd go do that and leave monarchs alone!) I kept finding pathetic dead bodies. So I raised thirty-two of them indoors this year mostly from the egg stage and a couple from hatchlings a few hours old, before the tachnids could get them. Just released the last one yesterday (a female). No more eggs now being laid in Michigan. All of the monarchs that come through here now are in diapause, not mating or laying, and trying to migrate to Mexico.

I don't expect any deliverance on the political front, but I'd like at least to keep the memory alive of the time when conservatives had principles and could discuss those principles among themselves and even disagree civilly. What a thought!

I highly recommend the documentary Metamorphosis on butterflies, featuring my friend (in-person friend, not just an on-line friend) Paul Nelson. Gorgeous, marvelous documentary on butterflies. And also Flight, by the same producers.

Post a comment


Bold Italic Underline Quote

Note: In order to limit duplicate comments, please submit a comment only once. A comment may take a few minutes to appear beneath the article.

Although this site does not actively hold comments for moderation, some comments are automatically held by the blog system. For best results, limit the number of links (including links in your signature line to your own website) to under 3 per comment as all comments with a large number of links will be automatically held. If your comment is held for any reason, please be patient and an author or administrator will approve it. Do not resubmit the same comment as subsequent submissions of the same comment will be held as well.